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GRTC Pulse Bus Lanes Will Have You Seeing Red

“With this ordinance, we’ll join other pioneering cities in using red lanes to help complete our streets, building a safer and more efficient transit system for our riders,” said Mayor Stoney.

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A 2.5 mile stretch of Broad Street will be painted red but only the GRTC Pulse bus-only lanes. The images you see above are one possible way they’ll look but they could end up being solid or hatched. This happening after the Richmond City Council approved a $2 million plan to increase pedestrian safety.

The 2.5-mile stretch of Broad Street is between Thompson Street and Foushee Street. This effort to highlight the lanes began shortly after a GRTC bus driver fatally struck 32-year-old Alice Woodson at the intersection of East Broad Street and Bowe Street in October 2019.

Statement from Mayor Stoney’s Office details the funding and answers other questions.

At the March 22 meeting of Richmond City Council, the city administration introduced an ordinance to direct funds from the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation to paint the Pulse Bus Rapid Transit bus-only lanes red.

“With this ordinance, we’ll join other pioneering cities in using red lanes to help complete our streets, building a safer and more efficient transit system for our riders,” said Mayor Stoney.

The pavement of the transit-only lanes will be painted red, either solid or hatched, starting with the stretch of Broad Street between Thompson Street and Foushee Street. At peak travel, approximately 14 buses per hour use that section of the major thoroughfare.

Red lanes have two key benefits: route efficiency and pedestrian safety. Clearly marked, bright red lanes help drivers understand when they must vacate a bus lane, which improves bus arrival times. The clear red markings also indicate to pedestrians that the traffic flow is different from other lanes, inspiring extra caution.

The grant funds were secured by the city’s Office of Equitable Transit and Mobility, led by longtime transit professional Dironna Moore Clarke.

“Complete streets lead to safer, faster, better transit,” said Clarke. “As we seek to build out a truly multimodal network, the red bus lanes along the Pulse route will serve as a model for other key corridors.”

A combination of city funds and the state grant will make this project possible. The state will reimburse the city over $1.6 million for the project, and the city is allocating $413,452 from the Department of Public Works Central Virginia Transportation Authority special fund account.

Project completion is planned for Spring 2022.

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Richard Hayes is the co-founder of RVAHub. When he isn't rounding up neighborhood news, he's likely watching soccer or chasing down the latest and greatest board game.

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Community

Music in the Park Returns

There will be two free concerts held at Forest Hill Park.

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Give Music in the Park a follow on Facebook to keep up to date on any possible changes.

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CDC says the vaccinated should wear masks indoors in areas with high infection rates

Federal health officials on Tuesday urged Americans in areas of the country with the highest surges in COVID-19 infections to once again wear masks when they are in public, indoor settings — even if they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

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By Laura Olson

The updated recommendations marked a sharp shift from the agency’s guidance in May that Americans fully vaccinated against COVID-19 do not need to wear a mask in most situations, indoors and outdoors.

The updates also included changes for schools, with federal health officials now urging everyone in K-12 schools to wear a mask indoors. That includes teachers, staff, students and visitors, regardless of vaccination status and the level of community transmission.

The update in CDC guidance was prompted by new data indicating that although breakthrough infections among the vaccinated are rare, those individuals still may be contagious and able to spread the disease to others, said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Wearing a mask indoors in areas with “substantial” or “high” transmission of the virus could help to reduce further outbreaks of the highly contagious delta variant, she said.

Some 39 states have infection rates that have reached “substantial” or “high” levels of transmission, according to a data tracker on the CDC website. The CDC rates Virginia, with 56.4 cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days and a 5 to 8 percent positivity rate, as having a “substantial” level of community transmission. However, that varies widely by locality.

“As always, we will thoroughly review these recommendations,” said Alena Yarmosky, a spokeswoman for Gov. Ralph Northam.  “The governor has taken a nuanced and data-driven approach throughout this pandemic—which is why Virginia has among the nation’s lowest total COVID-19 cases and death rates.

“As he has said repeatedly, the only way to end this pandemic is for everyone to get vaccinated. The facts show vaccines are highly effective at protecting Virginians from this serious virus — over 98 percent of hospitalizations and over 99 percent of deaths have been among unvaccinated Virginians.”

The agency also tracks infection rates on the county level, and 63 percent of U.S. counties are in those two categories of concern.

“This was not a decision that was taken lightly,” Walensky said. She added that other public health and medical experts agreed with the CDC that the new information on the potential for vaccinated people to have contagious infections required the agency to take action.

President Joe Biden described the agency’s revision on recommended mask use as “another step on our journey to defeating this virus.”

“I hope all Americans who live in the areas covered by the CDC guidance will follow it,” Biden said. “I certainly will when I travel to these areas.”

The mask-use changes may not be the only changes coming as the White House attempts to respond to the spiking infections. Biden also said Tuesday that a vaccination requirement for all federal employees is under consideration.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs already has required its frontline health care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

But the new recommendations on masks are expected to be met with resistance.

Areas of the country with the highest spikes in COVID-19 infections tend to be those with the lowest vaccination rates and places that were the fastest to end mask mandates for public settings.

Some have taken legal steps to prevent future mask mandates. At least nine states — Arkansas, Arizona, Georgia, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Vermont — have enacted legislation that prohibits districts from requiring masks in schools, according to a CNN analysis.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, a Republican, blasted the updated guidance in a statement Tuesday, describing it as “not grounded in reality or common sense.” Iowa’s level of community transmission is rated as “substantial” in the latest CDC map. 

“I’m concerned that this guidance will be used as a vehicle to mandate masks in states and schools across the country, something I do not support,” Reynolds said, adding that the vaccine “remains our strongest tool to combat COVID-19” and that she will continue to urge vaccinations.

Walensky sidestepped a question during Tuesday’s news briefing about the level of compliance that the CDC expects with the new recommendations, saying only that the way to drive down rising community transmission rates is to wear masks and to increase vaccination rates.

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Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters on Friday at Forest Hill Park

The weather hasn’t been kind to this year’s Movies in the park hopefully we’ll luck out.

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This Friday night Richmond VA Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities is showing Ghostbusters (the original Bill Murray classic) at Forest Hill Park. Bring your blanket, snacks and non-alcoholic drinks. The movie starts when it’s dark enough.

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